E.A. Sports Today

PV rolls into regionals

Lady Raiders beat Ohatchee for fifth time, build big lead behind Brannon, Parris, then Simpson closes it out from the post

Kara Perry (L) puts a big bear hug on teammate Atleigh Brannon after Pleasant Valley clinched a spot in the 3A Northeast Regional with its fifth victory of the season over Ohatchee Monday night.

Kara Perry (L) puts a big bear hug on teammate Atleigh Brannon after Pleasant Valley clinched a spot in the 3A Northeast Regional with its fifth victory of the season over Ohatchee Monday night.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — The chant of “J-S-U, J-S-U” starting rising from the student section behind the scorer’s table with about 20 seconds to go.

It didn’t start as a low rumble and then steadily build. It was a tidal wave of sound right from the start.

And it was then the Pleasant Valley girls basketball team knew it was heading to the next level.

The sixth-ranked Lady Raiders earned their first trip to the Northeast Regional in 14 years Monday with a 55-42 win over familiar county rival Ohatchee.

It was the fifth time PV (26-3) has beating the Lady Indians this season. The Lady Raiders now play No. 3 Pisgsah in their first Northeast Regional game since 2002 Saturday at 9 a.m. in nearby Pete Mathews Coliseum.

“When I heard that cheer I was thinking ‘heck yeah, we did this,'” Lady Raiders junior post Mikala Simpson said. “It feels great, like everything you put into it, all the hard work, all the time and the sweat and tears are finally worth something.”

Simpson led the Lady Raiders with 18 points, but McKinley Parris had 17 — with five 3-pointers – and Atleigh Brannon had 16.

The Lady Raiders pulled away from a close early game behind Parris and Brannon over the first three quarters, then Simpson closed it out with her play in the post.

Brannon had 10 points in the second quarter. Parris regularly hit 3s at crucial times. Simpson scored seven of her team’s 11 points in the fourth.

“Well, that’s what they do,” PV coach Brad Hood said. “Our offense builds on a two-man game on the weak side. You’re either going to take away the post or you’re going to take away the 3 and give us one-on-one in the post and they took their gamble on the takeaway the post and we happened to hit. Then we went back to our bread-and-butter.”

Each time Ohatchee took the lead in the first quarter Parris answered with a 3-pointer to put PV back on top. She hit another one at the end of the second – after Brannon did all the Lady Raiders’ previous scoring in the quarter — to send them into the break with a 27-20 lead.

The most she could ever recall having in a game prior to Monday was three.

“I guess I just shot the ball more,” Parris said. “I don’t really think when I shoot. If I’m open I’m going to shoot the ball.”

Hood hasn’t been on the bench of a team in the regionals since he helped coach the PV boys in 2001. He went as a player his senior year in high school but admitted he didn’t realize until years later “what a big deal it is.”

Now, his current team has to play one of the best teams in the state.

“I think we deserve to be there,” Hood said. “We deserve to be on the court with them, but we’ve got to prove our worth. They’ve been there. They go there every year; it’s just a business trip for them. Their season, they probably booked their room a year ahead. But our kids have to have that same mentality even though it’s their first experience.”

In years past, PV officials have allowed Pisgah to use their gym to practice before heading over to the coliseum. Under the circumstances, don’t look for that courtesy to be extended this year.

Pleasant Valley 55, Ohatchee 42

OHATCHEE – Courtney Poole 0 0-0 0, Hannah Howell 1 0-0 2, Ally McCoy 5 1-3 13, Kourtney Shuler 1 0-0 2, Makenzie Hanks 3 0-0 9, Madison Hanks 4 0-2 8, Cheyenne McCarter 4 0-0 8. Totals 18 1-5 42.

PLEASANT VALLEY – Kara Perry 2 0-1 4, Lindsey Pritchett 0 0-0 0, McKinley Parris 0-0 17, Atleigh Brannon 8 0-0 16, Rachel Faucett 0 0-0 0, Kendall Johnson 0 0-0 0, Emily Cochran 0 0-0 0, Taylor Barthel 0 0-1 0, Mikala Simpson 6 5-7 18, Courtney Upton 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 5-9 55.

Ohatchee 12 8 12 10 — 42
Pleasant Valley 14 13 17 11 — 55

3-point goals: Ohatchee 5 (McCoy 2, Mk. Hanks 3); PV 6 (Simpson, Parris 5). Total fouls: Ohatchee 9, PV 9. Officials: Scott, Brackett, Mosley.

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